The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

March 3, 2013

Windber Area students reach out to community

Persons of the Week

WINDBER — The 35 members of the student council at Windber Area High School are feeding their desire to help the community in various ways.

Each month students volunteer to help the Somerset County Mobile Food Bank. At Christmastime, they helped with the Christmas for the Kids project of the Paint Township police. And they’re now collecting pet food and pet toys for the Humane Society of Somerset County.

“It’s important to get involved with your community,” freshman Dana Dryzal said.

Toward the end of each month, the students, along with volunteers from Flood City Church in Richland Township, help to distribute food when the mobile food bank visits Calvary United Methodist Church on Stockholm Avenue in Windber.

“The volunteers help to hand out food to people in need and also help them to carry the food to their cars,” Dana said.

“The people are very appreciative, and they are so nice to us,” she said. “I look forward to going back every time.”

Sophomore Brandi Leverknight likewise enjoys helping at the mobile food bank.

“Overall, it’s just a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s nice to help the other people in the community and to see the smiles on their faces.”

The current project of helping the Humane Society is getting the entire school involved, with students, teachers and staff making donations, Brandi said. Because the local humane society does not euthanize any animals, the organization needs extra support to take care of all the animals it has, she said.

Slezak Karate Schools in Hollsopple and Somerset are supporting the project by offering students who make a donation a chance to win a free martial arts class, Brandi said.

Student council receives plenty of support from the entire school for its projects, she said.

“It is a lot of fun working on a project,” Brandi said. “We have fun with each other and the people whom we are helping.”

Brandi believes part of student council’s mission is to motivate others.

“We just feel that as members of student council, we should be leaders in our student body and set goals to help others,” she said.

Senior Jacey Hunter, the student council president, said seeing the impact the student group makes on people at the food bank is the reward for helping. Jacey helps on most food bank distribution days but was not able to do so this past Wednesday because she had to make a video newscast for school.

She said her favorite project was Christmas for the Kids.

Jacey and another member of student council, Dani Walsh, and a police officer picked out

gifts suitable for the ages of children in various families.

“It literally felt like we were Santa Claus,” Jacey said about that job.

She and Dani then helped the other students to wrap the presents.

“Giving up our time to help these families have a better Christmas was the most fulfilling part of the whole experience,” she said.

All of the student council members work hard on projects, she said.

“We have very dedicated members whose acts of selflessness and service are positively affecting our community,” she said.

For their efforts, Dana, Brandi and Jacey are the Persons of the Week.

Student council adviser Joseph Podrebarac is proud of the group. The students work on projects throughout the year to help others, he said.

Another such project, led by Dani Walsh, was sending children’s storybooks through the United Services Organizations to a parent deployed by the military. The parents could videotape themselves reading the book so their children who could watch a parent reading to them, Podrebarac said.

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